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Will in the World

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WILL IN THE WORLD “How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare” By Stephen Greenblatt

How did a young man from a small provincial town, a man without powerful family connections or independent wealth, go on to become the greatest playwright of all time? That is the question that Stephen Greenblatt attempts to answer in his biography of Shakespeare Will in the World.

I learned so much about the Bard from this book. Now admittedly, many of the details are conjecture, as they are in all of Shakespeare’s biographies because such precious little provable fact remains about much of his life. What the author does is paint for us a picture of what was happening all around Shakespeare at different stages of his life so we might surmise what kinds of experiences he had.

Shakespeare’s boyhood was spent in the country, and you see that in his plays. Nearly every experience Shakespeare had, every person he met, winds up somewhere in his plays. His father’s attempt to attain gentleman’s status, and his failure, his own marriage to Anne Hathaway, the death of his only son – it’s all in his plays if only in metaphor. Something interesting about his wife – here is a man more prolific than any other playwright of his time and he wrote not a single love letter or poem to his wife. Not one.

I could share so much more with you, but I’ll let you enjoy for yourself. Now –one caveat – this is a book written by a Harvard professor and it reads very much like a textbook at times. While not a page-turner, it is filled with interesting details, especially for anyone who is always seeking for a way to derive even more pleasure from the plays of William Shakespeare.

A thumbs up for Stephen Greenblatt’s latest non-fiction bestseller in hardback, Will in the World. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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